Posts Tagged ‘mission’

Outsound Music Summit: Touch the Gear

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The 2014 Outsound Music Summit in underway. And as usual, we began with our popular community event Touch the Gear. We had a large crowd of all ages, and delightful cacophony of unusual musical sounds.

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This year, I brought the analog modular (specifically, about two-thirds of the current module collection) and the new Moog Theremini:

Amanda Chaudhary with analog modular and Moog Theremini
[Photo by Frank Lin]

There were several first-time participants this year, including Elise Gargalikis and Dmitri SFC of coa-modular.comwith their “wall of Serge”. It was fun to get to try this out myself.

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[Photo by Elise Gargalikis‎]

There was more Serge modular to be found, courtesy of Lx Rudis.

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Aaron Oppenheim brought classic circuit-bent toys, including a Speak&Math and the Talking Computron.

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It was a bit of inspiration to get of my tuchus and circuit-bend the Speak&Spell sitting in my studio!

There was a Minimoog sighting, of course.

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Long-time participants Matt Davignon and CJ Borosque demonstrated their recent work with effects pedals. Davignon processed drum machines and samplers while Borosque’s pedals were in a closed loop circuit generating their own sound.

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There were acoustic instruments as well. David Samas brought his very impressive contrabass ehru. This beast was huge. And it had bells in addition to the strings and resonant chamber (made out of a trunk).

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Bryan Day presented his mechanical/electrical/acoustic inventions.

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Jaroba shared a variety of wind and percussion instruments with a bit of electronics.

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[Photo by Frank Lin]

There were several more presenters, and as usual I don’t have room for everyone in this post. But it was a great event as always, and we at Outsound appreciated everyone’s contributions. Now it is on to the concerts including tomorrow night’s Poetry Freqs show. Please click here for the full schedule!

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Wordless Wednesday: Florida Street

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Wordless Wednesday: Erie

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APAture 2013 Music Night

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The 2013 APAture festival concluded with a diverse evening of music, ranging from avant-garde jazz to metal to rap. The event took place at SUB/Mission in San Francisco. Featured artist Karl Evangelista opened the evening with a group that included Francis Wong, Margaret Rei Scampavia, Cory Wright, and Jordan Glenn.

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[© 2013 Karen Ng/Kearny Street Workshop]

The music was a frenetic style of avant-garde jazz, which moved freely in and out of more conventionally harmonic sections. Many of the pieces were inspired by Evangelista’s own personal history and his Filipino heritage. It was also fun to see Francis Wong, whom I usually encounter in more rarefied venues, at punk club in the Mission.

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[© 2013 Karen Ng/Kearny Street Workshop]

The Evangelista group was followed by something completely different both sonically and visually. Bestiary, a solo project of Rai Yin Hsu featured experimental noise guitar and a rather unique black-and-white suit.

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There were a variety of long sounds processed through effects, with a few sharper elements as well.

Some of the evening’s entertainment happened in between the official musical acts, with our hosts Rupert Carangal Estanislao and Jennifer Chu keeping the crowd energized.

Jen and Rupert
[© 2013 Karen Ng/Kearny Street Workshop]

Next up was The Residuals, a self-described “hardworking, Do-It-Yourself metal band.”

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[© 2013 Karen Ng/Kearny Street Workshop]

As expected, they were quite loud, and Joshua Lykkeberg provided vocal fry. But the group, which also featured brothers Anand Jobanputra and Rohan Jobanputra was quite tight, with unisons and fast syncopations.

From metal we then moved to rap, with a set by Joal Vargas that focused on community issues as well as his experience as a teacher.

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[© 2013 Karen Ng/Kearny Street Workshop]

The diversity of the evening continued with a cabaret style performance by Bellows, featuring chanteuse Kyle Casey Chu and Rachel Waterhouse on keyboards.

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[© 2013 Karen Ng/Kearny Street Workshop]

After the fast energy of the previous two sets, the mellow and expressive style was welcome, and their stage presence was a lot of fun.

Bellows was followed by Little Sister, an East Bay rock trio featuring Erica Benton, MonBon and Nada Diaz.

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[© 2013 Karen Ng/Kearny Street Workshop]

They had a contemporary rock sound that was quite moody and a bit melancholy at times, but they still had a warm stage presence. Benton and MonBon traded off guitar and bass duties during the course of the performance.

There was still more music to come in this rather long event. I unfortunately had to depart after Little Sister, but glad I had the opportunity to be there for most of it and hear such a cross section of music in the Bay Area.

(For a review of the APAture opening-night event and gallery show, please visit this link.)

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Weekend Cat Blogging: The Cat Museum of San Francisco

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Those who follow our Facebook page are often treated to pictures of noted individuals with cats on their birthdays, courtesy of the Cat Museum of San Francisco. (And if you don’t follow us on Facebook, this is one more reason that you should!) It turns out that the Cat Museum of San Francisco does exist in the real world as well as online. While they don’t have a permanent “museum” space, they do have pop-up exhibits from time to time. I had the opportunity to see one of these at Sunday Streets in the Mission back in April.

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The exhibit featured numerous cat-related prints in a variety of styles. It was veritable catnip for someone who loves both art and cats.

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photographic prints of cats

japanese ink drawings of cats

The Cat Museum of San Francisco “is dedicated to exploring the relationship between people and their feline friends.” According to their website:

We are a brand new 501(c)(3) non profit organization established in the Fall of 2010. Our goal is to create a facility here in San Francisco where we can collect, exhibit and interpret objects, related to the Cat.

Visit www.catmuseumsf.org for more information and online exhibits. We at CatSynth certainly hope this project continues to grow.

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Pitta of the Mind, Doug Harvey, Other Cinema at ATA

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In the midst of this rather crazy time in May with multiple band performances, rehearsals, art fairs and other happens, we look back at the simpler time that was April. In particular, my performance as “Pitta of the Mind” with Maw Shein Win at Artists Television Access in San Francisco. The performance was part of a launch event for Doug Harvey’s new anthology “patacritical Interrogation Techniques Anthology Volume 3″, hosted by Other Cinema.

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Other Cinema events are always a fun mix of the campy, the strange, the beautiful, and sometimes challenging material. The selection during this evening included the hilarious but incomprehensible “Turkish Star Wars” and an interest abstract french piece, shown below:

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Throughout the evening, Doug Harvey also read selections from his new anthology. It was such an eclectic mix of elements ranging from criticism to found text, and I look forward to reading it myself.

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Our Pitta of the Mind performance featured readings from Harvey’s collection of spam poetry. It was a different sort of text from our usual, but a lot of fun and provided more opportunities from abstract musical response. You can see and hear our performance in this video:

ATA Pitta of the Mind from CatSynth on Vimeo.

I also had the opportunity to accompany Harvey’s Moldy Slides, a piece based on a collection of 35mm slides in various states of decay. The images and concept were quite beautiful, and I enjoyed the opportunity to improvise to it on iPad synths. Unfortunately, I do not have a recording of that performance.

Harvey wrote a very complimentary review of our performance on his blog. Here is an excerpt:

The highlight of the San Francisco launch event for ‘patacritical Interrogation Techniques Anthology Volume 3 at ATA/Other Cinema (Craig Baldwin’s 28-year-old underground microcinema) was undoubtedly Pitta of the Mind (Maw Win & Amar Chaudhary) translating found email spam poetry from the turn of the Millennium into swinging intergalactic electro-transmissions. I made a video, so hopefully that will find its way online soon, but in the emantime, here’s a couple of action shots, and a sampling of the spoems:

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Any dahlia can brainwash short order cook of, but it takes a real lover to for lover.Any trombone can approach fundraiser toward, but it takes a real guardian angel to traffic light of cleavage.piroshki remain sprightly.

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– Essie Russell

Follow the link to read more and see some photos.

A big thank you to Craig Baldwin of Other Cinema and to Doug Harvey for giving us the opportunity to participate in this event. I look forward to doing more with Other Cinema in the future.

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17th Street in San Francisco

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17th Street is one of the longer numbered streets in San Francisco, though not the longest. What makes it unique among its peers is that it forms an almost perfect horizontal line through a large swath of the city, cutting through a variety of neighborhoods and terrains. Like reading geological strata or tree rings, it is an efficient way to explore San Francisco’s geography and history. For quite a long time I have wanted to walk the length of 17th Street. And on March 17 of this year, things lined up in terms of numbers, schedule and weather to make the perfect day for this walk.

17th Street begins at a modest corner with Pennsylvania Avenue at the base of Potrero Hill, next the I-280 elevated section. This used to be a rather forlorn block, but it has been upgraded quite a bit with the addition of a small park at the end of the street.

The street then heads westward through the flat land below Potrero Hill and crosses many of the streets named for U.S. states. Along the way one passes Bottom of the Hill, a club that I recently played at (you can read the gig report here). There is also Parkside, where I have yet to play. The architecture in this area changes between industrial and the modest wooden houses that typify San Francisco. There is also some newer condo and office development.

The street then heads uphill and underneath the US 101 freeway. From here, one can look down at the junction with I-80 and the downtown skyline beyond.

This neighborhood, at the boundary between Potrero Hill and the Mission is the location of Art Explosion, where I have had photography shows over the past couple of years. I have since left that space in order to focus on my other creative projects. From here, 17th Street heads downward into the Mission.

This is a huge neighborhood with numerous subsections each with their own character. We start off in a very industrial area that continues until we cross South Van Ness, at which point we enter the very densely packed core along Mission Street. Continuing westward we find ourselves in the heart of San Francisco hipsterdom, particularly along Valencia Street and the wide park-like Dolores Street.

The houses along this section of the street are a more upscale variety of the ornate San Francisco Victorians, some in colors that one would never instinctively think to paint a house. There are also numerous alleys that poke in either direction off the street.

From here, we continue eastward into the Castro. I have never been entirely sure where the Mission ends and the Castro begins, but I think it is probably at Church Street. Further on it becomes pretty clear where we are as 17th Street approaches its six-point intersection with Market and Castro streets. At this intersection, we find the huge landmark pride flag.

This is also the terminus for the F-Market streetcar line, which uses vintage streetcars from around the world.

After crossing Market Street, we come to the 4000 block of 17th. We have already come a long way, but there is still quite a bit ahead of us.

From here, the street heads up a steep hill into a very upscale neighborhood with large (and undoubtedly very expensive) houses. While 17th Street remains straight as it goes uphill, the intersecting streets, a few of which are named for planets, are more curved and follow the contours of the terrain. There are also numerous staircases here, providing access where it is too steep to build cross streets or alleys.

17th Street eventually reaches its apex at a large intersection with Clayton Street. To the south is Twin Peaks. To the north is Mount Olympus, the geographical center of the city. I had explored the strange little park at that point on a previous excursion. There is a pedestal that presumably contained a statue at one point. I used it as a backdrop for some of my doll photos, one of which you can see here. From this point, 17th drops precipitously into the Cole Valley neighborhood.

This section is purely residential, and the streets straighten out. Even after descending the hill, the street still remains higher than the rest of Cole Valley and the Upper Haight to the north. 17th Street comes to an end here at an intersection with Stanyan Street.

Thus, the mission to walk the length of 17th Street was complete. But this was not the end of the story. The city recently opened the long-closed Interior Greenbelt park, and the main trail begins half a block away on Stanyan. One ascends a narrow wooden staircase and enters into a completely different world.

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I am surprised I had never before made it to this gem of a park, though it did only open to the public in 2011. The woods are not unlike those one might find in parks outside the city, with no visual cues of the urban surroundings at all. There are some sounds from the city that penetrate into the woods, but they are overshadowed by the combination of silences and natural sounds. The late afternoon lighting was perfect on this trip as well. I spent about 30 minutes or so wandering the main “historic” trail of the park before exiting on a small brick-paved street with a spectacular view of the city.

Tired but contented, I picked up a nearby MUNI Metro to get home. And this really is the end of the journey.

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The Green Wood, an opera by David Samas

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David Samas’ new multimedia opera The Green Wood premiered this Wednesday at Shotwell Studios. The piece, which featured Samas with Laurie Amat, Doug Carroll, Bob Marsh, Grace Renaud, Becky Robinson-Leviton and Jennifer Gwirtz combined visuals, music, inventions, words and dance into an immersive experience centered around the idea and experience of the forest.


[The Green Wood. Photo by Sam Ardrey.]

The Green Wood literally refers to the mixed-media installation that serves as the main set for the piece. It is a visual representation of the elements of the forest, but also serves as a primary musical instrument both through its main dendraphone structure as well as other attached sound-makers such as pine cones, courrugahorns and blocks. Indeed, the great majority of the sound-making in the piece comes from elements found in forests: seeds, stones, water, and primarily wood. These materials were not only in Samas’ many invented instruments but also in the traditional instruments used: cello, string bass and piano. There was also electronics integrated into the sonic fabric via microphones and loopers.


[David Samas and invented instruments. Photo by Sam Ardrey.]

The piece follows 24 hours in the life of a forest, moving from early morning hours through daytime to dusk and finally into late night. The lighting design and ambient sounds guide the audience through this framework. The music often followed the ambient sounds, such as the percussive playing during the early morning hours matching the insects and leaves, but also incorporated a variety of styles from traditional european folk music to throat singing to more esoteric. There was even a butoh piece featuring Bob Marsh in an elaborate tree costume.


[Bob Marsh as a tree. Photo by Sam Ardrey.]

The voices, traditional instruments and invented instruments blended well both acoustically and musically, a result of the strong musicianship in the ensemble and presumably a lot of rehearsal. I am familiar with Carroll, Marsh and Amat from numerous other performances, but this was my introduction to Samas’ range of vocal techniques which included throat singing as well as traditional Western practice. I also liked how well the looping was integrated acoustically, something I noticed particularly during the sections featuring throat singing and the pouring of water.


[Grace Renaud. Photo by Sam Ardrey.]

In many ways, however, the stars were the invented instruments in their visual and sonic variety. Different instruments were introduced as the piece unfolded, some were very polished and complex while others were incredibly simple, such as seeds poured onto ceramic plates.


[Becky Robinson-Leviton as the Nymph of the Flowers. Photo by Sam Ardrey.]

The performance sought to engage the audience beyond sight and sound with the use of incense made and the serving of a tea made from nettles and flowers. These were enhancements to the experience and not overbearing.


[Photo by Sam Ardrey.]

The was a dissonance between the text of the piece and the immersive and celebratory qualities of the music and visuals. It was dark at times, lamenting both environmental destruction and the dislocation of humans from natural habitats that nourish them. It is a challenge to make such topics not come across as didactic, but that could also be seen as part of the piece itself.

Overall, it was a great and unique performance, and it was well received by the audience on opening night. The show has performances tonight (Friday 3/22), tomorrow night (Saturday 3/23) and a Sunday matinee at Shotwell Studios. I recommend seeing it if you can.

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Godwaffle Noise Pancakes (March 3, 2013)

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Pancakes and noise music may not be the first combination one thinks of for a Sunday brunch. But that is precisely what is offered at Godwaffle Noise Pancakes, a monthly noontime show organized by Grux at The Lab in San Francisco. I had the opportunity to perform at the most recent event on March 3.

I opted for a “purple theme” revolving around the purple Monorocket case I have for my Eurorack modular system. I selected an outfit and hair to match, and even found an old toy keyboard that was purple.


[Photo by Michael Zelner.]

The performance itself was on the subtle side, attempting to dial in on specific sounds and module combinations. It was an exercise in managing unpredictability and finding musical structures and phrases even in the noisiest of situations. You can see the performance in the video below.

Godwaffle Noise Pancakes live performance, March 3, 2013 from CatSynth on Vimeo.

The hall was quite dark during the set and my attempts to lighten the video resulted in a lot of artifacts. But it does complement the sound in a way. One take-a-way for future performances with the instrument is to be mindful of how one adapts the output of the small Eurorack jacks to standard live-sound systems. Investing in some strong audio adapters for the modular itself will cut down on some of those unpredictable pops. But overall I was quite happy with the set, and got a lot of positive feedback (about the visual as well as the aural).

The next performance featured Abyss of Fathomless Light featuring Bert Bergen. His fast moving performance combined vocal recordings on a series of cassette players with analog electronics into a thick and fast moving soundscape. He was followed by fslux, whose performance moved between longer more mellifluous sounds featuring her vocals and harsh electrical output from effects pedals.


[Photo by Michael Zelner.]

The performance by J. Soliday (Jason Soliday) was undoubtedly the loudest and noisiest of this noise-based show. There were long sequences of repeated loud glitches that required a bit of effort to listen to, but also a few gaps and pauses with space for quieter detail.

The final performance featured a collaboration by Wobbly and Thomas Dimuzio. I have seen them perform together before, but this was the first time with the technological combo of Dimuzio on analog modular and Wobbly on iPad and other digital synths.


[Photo by Michael Zelner.]

This was the longest performance of the afternoon (all the others including mine were quite short), but also the most captivating. They were able to create enveloping soundscapes that at times felt otherworldly and at others more meditative. The overall texture was lush, but there were dry moments with more staccato details from both the analog and digital instruments.

Overall, it was a fun afternoon of music. I am glad I was able to participate and hope to do so again soon.

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Weekend Cat Blogging: Mission Cat

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Late last year, I was heading to an opening at Southern Exposure in the Mission when I passed by this cat on the street:

The cat seemed familiar, and indeed it turns out we had encountered one another on the same street back in 2009! You can see some photos in this Weekend Cat Blogging article. It was great to see a cat here in the city with a long-term stable living situation, and the confidence to greet passers by on the street (albeit with laser eyes fully armed).

This neighborhood is mixture of residential buildings and converted factories and warehouses, not much greenery. Similar to the area around CatSynth HQ, actually. But there are lots of little cracks and places for a savvy cat to explore.

Oh, and the art opening was a mixed bag. There were some very interesting pieces, some others less so.


The Carnival of the Cats will be up this Sunday at Mind of Mog.

And the Friday Ark is at the modulator.

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